Katie: The Forever Girl focuses on the occult, something I haven't seen lately in young adult literature. What made you pick that as your subject material?
Rebecca: Well, occult is one of those words I think are off-putting for some, as it sounds like "cult" (especially when you have a character who practices Wicca). Mind you, I don't think Wicca is a cult, I just realize that's a common misconception.
However, Occult and cult have two different meanings. In fact, occult is really just another word for "supernatural". So when you think of it that way, there are a lot of young adult novels that are written about the occult. As for books written with Wiccan characters, there may be fewer of those in young adult fiction because we live in a society that is mostly Christian's who don't approve of "witchcraft" of which they include Wicca. (It's important to note that many Wiccans see Wicca and Witchcraft after separate practices, while others see the terms as inter-changable).
All that said, my novel isn't intended for young adults. It's intended for new adults (20-something-year-olds). This has more to do with content and character than to do with the Wiccan elements.
Katie: Your novel flirts the line between young adult and adult, using a twenty-two year old protagonist and some strong language. What are the benefits from straddling age groups? Any drawbacks?
Rebecca: Yes, the novel does flirt the line between young adult and adult, which is what I intended for the new adults audience. The benefits have been that I have reached an age group that is in need. There's a lot of fiction for YA's out there and a lot of fiction for the 30+ crowd. This leads some 20-something-year-olds to read young adult books as adults, or to find it difficult to find adult books that interest them. In this way, The Forever Girl meets a demand. The other benefit is that some of the more mature young adults have read my book and that some older adults who are young at heart have enjoyed my book as well.
As for drawbacks, yes, a few. I get the people who assume the book is young adult and therefore inappropriate as well as those who assume the book is adult and therefore immature. In the end, however, I wanted to stay true to my main character. She's twenty-two and going through some twenty-two-year-old things. Of course, she's also going through some things most people will never go through as well.
Katie: We hear all the time that paranormal romance is dead. Do you find that readers are still seeking out books in that genre?
Rebecca: I have heard that, but from what I can see, it's still alive. I think when they say a genre is dead, what they really mean is, "It WAS the top fad, but it's not anymore." Which doesn't really mean it's dead. It just means it's no longer the hottest genre on the market.
Katie: You seem to be quite successful in marketing. Tell us your secrets. Which marketing techniques were the most successful? Which, in retrospect, weren't?
Rebecca: I wish I knew. My book did really well early on, but over the summer, things died down a great deal. Maybe that is because I started homeschooling my kids, and so I had less time to be available to my fans and run promotions. Marketing seems to be about being everywhere at once, about being able to do the work of ten people for one product. Mostly, though, when I was marketing, what worked best for me was giveaways. Lots and lots of giveaways. I also tweet and Facebook about my book, and that includes having some games to keep people entertained.
Rebecca: Great question. How DO I find the time? Truth is, I don't. Family always comes first. That's a given. Editing and writing, though? Well, for a long time I put editing (and marketing) ahead of writing. But I found myself so far behind on writing that now I have to focus on that for a while. I haven't found the perfect balance yet. I love editing, though, and I've been able to help a lot of authors become successful. That's too rewarding to let go, and I seem to have a knack for it. Moving forward, I hope to get better with time management so that I can get everything done. However, it may just be the case that I expect too much from myself, and there just aren't enough hours in the day.
Katie: What can we expect from the sequel Come, the Dark?
Rebecca: Come, the Dark follows a new forever girl, this one a young woman named Cordovae destined to become Ankou. It's set right before the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. This novel will have more action, magic, and danger than the forever girl. There will be some romance, but not as much, and not nearly as much mystery. It really is more of an adventure, and through it we get to see more of the Forever Girl world and learn more about the elementals we didn't get to see as much of in the first book. Charles and Adrian both make cameo appearances, as does Elizabeth and Thornhart.
Katie: Tell us about the Books Against Bullying Campaign.
Rebecca: The Books Against Bullying campaign is something I put together a couple months ago in an attempt to reach out to bullied teenagers. The goal is to gather donated ebooks from various authors, load them onto a kindle (perhaps along with some other popular titles I will purchase), and send it to a teen who has been a victim of bullying. We hope to send the message that there is life outside of school, that there are whole worlds they can get lost in, and that there are people who DO care about them, even if they haven't met these people yet (such as the authors who cared enough to donate their books). If it goes well with the first round, I'll try to make this a regular thing. On my current income I am sure I can do this once or twice a year, but a couple people have been willing to donate toward the kindle purchase, and if that keeps up then we can afford to do this more often. Ideally bullied teens will get support from friends, family, teachers, and counselors, and we encourage that in our letter to them (that we'll be sending with the gift), but even if they feel they don't have the support from those people, hopefully they will see they have support from tons of authors. And they'll have tons of books to get lost in.
Katie: Other than writing, what are you passionate about?
Rebecca: My family, though that is problem a given as well. I'm also passionate about Autism Awareness. Every now and then I do promotions where I donate proceeds from my book to the Autism Self Advocacy Network. I have also written an article for them and now donate my time to helping them make their book resources available to the public. I am also passionate about cupcakes, chocolate, and tacos! I'm often told I'm a passionate person in general, pretty much anything I like at all I become passionate about. Sometimes this gets me into trouble ;)
Katie, thank you so much for the interview and for having me on your blog!
Katie: Thank you, Rebecca! You can find The Forever Girl here.
You can find Rebecca Hamilton here.
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